Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How-to cut great curves with a craft knife.

Lately I've been cutting tracing templates that have some pretty complicated shapes. These shapes could be put into 3 or 4 categories- rounded (like half-circles and curves), lots of points, small "window" cuts inside a larger shape, and combo (shapes made up of curves and points). I realized that I cut each category of shapes in a very specific way- so I thought it might make a good topic for a post.

Today I'll cover cutting curves and follow-up with another how-to about getting great points, windows and combo shapes.

But (there's always a but, right) before I get started with curves I want to cover some craft knife basics. These are things I learned while getting my degree in graphic design which helped me 1. be less scared of using a knife (I know if you are new to paper crafting the blades can look scary) and 2. be better at every kind of cut from simple straight lines to complicated shapes.

So here are my basic tips:

  • Always use a sharp blade.

Most of the time if you cut yourself it will be with a dull blade (a dull craft blade can still make impressive cuts on your finger though). The duller the blade the less control you have and the more likely the knife is to "jump" the paper/ruler and slice your fingers. Also using a sharp blade means you can make finer cuts with less pressure on your wrist and less tearing of your paper.

  • Use a metal ruler.
Both wood and plastic can get nicked by the blade. When this happens not only will you get wobbly cuts instead of straight lines, but it's also more likely that your blade will jump the ruler and cut your fingers. (My favorite rulers are metal with cork backing- to help them stay in place.)
  • When cutting a straight line protect what you are cutting with the ruler.

This means the "good side" of what you are cutting should be under the ruler. That way if your blade goes off track and away from the ruler's edge you'll only be cutting into the scrap paper and not what you're trying to cut out.

You have to rotate your paper for each straight line you're cutting but trust me it's worth it. There is nothing more frustrating than having one more cut to make and accidentally slicing through your work!

Now that the basics are out of the way- Let's get to the curves.

I used markers to demonstrate how I approach each shape. Then cut them out to show you the results.

First up, I have this "U" or elongated crescent shape:

The key to cutting anything that's circular or arched is to approach the curve from opposite ends.

I started at one corner and cut toward the middle of the curve. Then turned my paper and did the same thing on either side so my cuts meet roughly in the center.

Something else to consider is where to cut first. Once you cut a large area there is more pressure on the remaining attached paper. Which becomes prone to movement and tears as you cut each line. Because of this, I usually start with the small areas and move to the bigger cuts.

To cut this shape I made my two cuts on the green line then while holding the shape to keep it stable I'd make my two cuts along the red line.

Holding the shape even if it's small is an important part of getting sharp smooth cuts with no tears in your paper. Here I've taken a picture of the shape next to my craft blade for scale- it's a pretty small shape.

Here's the finished cutout- nice smooth curves.

Next, I have a horseshoe or "C" shape.

I'll cut the curves the same way described above. It also has two little straight lines on either side which are an exception to the cut small areas first rule. Because these little lines connect to both curves once I cut them they'll put more pressure on each curve. Since these are small, straight lines the cuts are very easy. The curves are more difficult so I'll leave these straight areas until last.

Starting with the small curve- I make the two cuts that meet in the center.

Then the same for the large curve.

Last the two small straight lines are cut.

And here's the finished shape.

Finally, I have this swirl.

You can see from the picture that includes my blade that it's also pretty small. But it's possible to get nice smooth curves here too.

I start on the inside curve in the center because it's the smallest.

Then the outside curve in the center

Once those cuts were made I continued to cut down one side, then the other.

Last I cut the small straight line at the end to finish the shape.

Here it is all cut out.

I hope this "how to" helps you cut curves smoother and easier!


  1. Awesome tutorial, this all makes so much sense! Thanks :)

    1. IEEE Final Year projects Project Centers in India are consistently sought after. Final Year Students Projects take a shot at them to improve their aptitudes, while specialists like the enjoyment in interfering with innovation. For experts, it's an alternate ball game through and through. Smaller than expected IEEE Final Year project centers ground for all fragments of CSE & IT engineers hoping to assemble. Final Year Projects for CSE It gives you tips and rules that is progressively critical to consider while choosing any final year project point.

      JavaScript Online Training in India

      JavaScript Training in India

      The Angular Training covers a wide range of topics including Components, Angular Directives, Angular Services, Pipes, security fundamentals, Routing, and Angular programmability. The new Angular TRaining will lay the foundation you need to specialise in Single Page Application developer. Angular Training

  2. This is VERY helpful! I am new to this so keeping these tips in mind will really help me!

  3. Fantastic! I bought 2 swivel knives but couldn't get them to work consistently (my problem, not the knives!) and the blades are expensive. I'm new to the art, and this is exactly what I needed. Thank you!

  4. is there anyway to get curves perfectly strait like normal lines with a ruler?

  5. Thank you Meg. You make it seem so easy.

  6. Thank you! You make it seem so much easier than it actually is!

  7. The post is written in very a good manner and it contains many useful information for me. Fish Knives Review

  8. Thank you so much for this valuable information put in this blog. Visit our page about Website Designing and Development Services in Delhi by Ogen Infosystem.
    Website Designing Company in Delhi

  9. Nice blog, Get the best Shipping and Freight Forwarding Services by Y&H Cargo India.
    Freight Forwarders in Delhi

  10. Nice Blog, Try the best Mutual fund Companies in Delhi for the best Mutual Fund Advisors and Investment Schemes.
    Mutual Fund Companies

  11. Your blog is really nice and informative also. Thank you so much for sharing with this informative blog. Visit for Lifestyle Magazine.
    Lifestyle Magazine

  12. Awesome blog, Get the best Vinyl Signage Printing, Commercial Vehicle Wrap and Fleet Painting Services by Kalakutir Pvt Ltd in Delhi, India.
    Vinyl Signage Printing

  13. Very Nice Article keep it up..! Thanks for sharing this amazing information with us..
    We have worked with many businesses in New Zealand and abroad and we have found that although there has been massive growth in technology, most small to medium sized business owners have been left behind.

    Website Design Company in New Zealand
    Website Development Company in New Zealand
    Hosting Company New Zealand
    Website Revamp Company in New Zealand

  14. View and post reviews about packers and movers services, hotel services, home delivery services, online shopping services, transportation services, and etc.

    Click here and post your review with others.

  15. Ombre Powder Glow brows is a technique performed with the assistance of a Master Liner Machine and provides a soft appearance that is both natural looking and long lasting. This brow type typically lasts 1-2 years.

    Permanent Makeup
    Microblading Los Angeles
    Eyebrow Tattoo
    Cosmetic Tattoo
    Ombre Eyebrows
    Powder Eyebrows

  16. Wow!!! It was really an Informational Article which provide me with much Insightful Information. I would like to first thank the author for such an Insightful Content. If someone here is looking for a Website Designing Company in India, then look no further than Jeewangarg.com as we are the Best website designing company working in the arena for the last 8 years.
    Digital Marketing company in Delhi

  17. Such an interesrting and essential topic that everyone should know this. Parsan provides Engineering Geophysics repair solution. Visit the site Pipeline Leakage to know more about Pipeline Leak Detection Service Provider in India.

  18. Such an interesrting and essential topic that everyone should know this. Parsan provides Engineering Geophysics repair solution. Visit the site Pipeline Leakage to know more about Pipeline Leak Detection Service Provider in India.

  19. Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man,Keep it up.
    Best uk education consultants in delhi
    ielts coaching in gurgaon

  20. Thanks for sharing such a great information, Here we are India's best service provider of SBI Kiosk Banking.
    kiosk banking
    online sbi kiosk

  21. Wow!!Great post. Thanks for sharing this informative article. Keep it up.
    I Need Trip - International Honeymoon Packages & Holiday Packages:-
    Bali Packages
    Singapore Packages
    Mauritius Packages
    Maldives Packages
    Dubai Packages

  22. Your article is very interesting.
    Want to make your own website!!!
    Contact "Essencesoftwares" the best web design company in India.
    Web Development Company
    App Development Company

  23. I think this is one of the best blog for me because this is really helpful for me. Thanks for sharing this valuable information for free...
    packers and movers in deoghar

  24. tired of reading boring blogs, finally something interesting thankyou for bring something really happening.
    floral cushions john lewis
    floral designs for pillow cases
    vintage pillow person

  25. Nice post. Thank you to provide us this useful information. Indiana Jones Jacket

  26. Incredible blog here! It's mind boggling posting with the checked and genuinely accommodating data.
    limitless leather jacket

  27. Regular visits listed here are the easiest method to appreciate your energy, which is why why I am going to the website everyday, searching for new, interesting info. Many, thank you! Best Machetes

  28. Our the purpose is to share the reviews about the latest Jackets,Coats and Vests also share the related Movies,Gaming, Casual,Faux Leather and Leather materials available Bandidos Vest


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...